Labeling journalists “the enemy of the people.” Oh, America! Where are you heading?

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!   1:48 PM – 17 Feb 2017”

-President Trump

 “When American leaders stand up for a free press, they embolden courageous journalists who put their lives and liberty on the line to report the news. And when American leaders fall short, they embolden the autocrats who seek to repress those journalists.”

– The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

     by Alan Simons

Last month, A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of The New York Times, received a request from the White House to meet with President Trump. According to the Publisher “This was not unusual; there has been a long tradition of New York Times publishers holding such meetings with presidents and other public figures who have concerns about coverage.”

Not long after his meeting with the president, A.G. Sulzberger felt obliged to issue a statement. He said:

“My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.

I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.

I told him that although the phrase “fake news” is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists “the enemy of the people.” I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.

I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.

Throughout the conversation I emphasized that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was of course free to tell the world. I made clear repeatedly that I was not asking for him to soften his attacks on The Times if he felt our coverage was unfair. Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. On August 15, 2018, CPJ issued the following statement on US press freedom:

In recent weeks CPJ has noticed an uptick in interest from editorial boards of U.S. publications on issues related to press freedom in the United States. In light of this, the following data and reporting may be helpful.

CPJ systematically tracks the killing and imprisonment of journalists around the world, and reports on threats and attacks against them. We are also one of the managing partners of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a joint initiative of 30 organizations dedicated to defending press freedom.

According to CPJ research, in 2018:

Four journalists and one media worker have been murdered (at the Capital Gazette)

Another journalist, Zack Stoner, was killed in Chicago, but CPJ is still investigating whether the motive is related to his journalism.

This is the deadliest year for journalists in the United States since CPJ began keeping records in 1992. At this point in 2018, the United States is the third deadliest country globally after Afghanistan and Syria.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

In 2018, at least 24 journalists were physically attacked (ranging from being shoved or having equipment damaged, to more serious physical assaults). In 2017, at least 45 journalists were physically attacked.

In 2018, at least three journalists have been arrested in the U.S. in the course of their work. In 2017, at least 34 journalists were arrested.

Since the beginning of 2017, the Department of Justice has issued indictments in at least four leak prosecutions. In at least one case, a journalist’s records were subpoenaed.

An international delegation of global press freedom groups led by CPJ in January found that journalists face a range of threats including physical and verbal harassment, and that press freedom in Missouri and surrounding states has worsened in recent years.

Covering white nationalism and the far right is a dangerous beat in the United States. CPJ has documented threats, both online and off, to reporters who cover these movements.

Protests are among the most dangerous assignments for journalists:

CPJ research shows that journalists of colour face a unique set of threats when covering protests.

Since the beginning of 2017, the S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented at least 31 journalists arrested at protests, while 36 have faced some form of physical attack or interference at protests.

CPJ has also documented how the police crowd-control tactic known askettlingcan sweep up journalists and result in their arrest.

The White House’s charged rhetoric on “fake news” not only undermines the work of the media in the U.S., it emboldens autocratic leaders around the world. Authorities in countries including China, Cambodia, Egypt, Philippines, Syria, and Poland have adopted President Trump’sfake news” epithet to justify censorship.

In the past year, Canada has also seen an increase of attacks against its journalists. On August 24, 2017, Global News reported,Black Bloc warning urges more violence against Canadian journalists. An anti-fascist group whose members assaulted two Global News journalists at a demonstration in Quebec last weekend defended their actions Thursday and threatened more violence against journalists covering future protests in order to, according to the post, “make demonstrations safer” for the group. In an anonymous statement posted online titled “No face, no case: in defence of smashing corporate media cameras” the group said it wanted to “offer an explanation” for why a Global News camera was smashed and reporter Mike Armstrong was assaulted and pushed down a staircase.” And this past week, A Canadian journalist was physically attacked at an anti-hate rally in Toronto.

To quote the American author, Naomi Wolf: “Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the ’30s, East Germany in the ’50s, Czechoslovakia in the ’60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the ’70s, China in the ’80s and ’90s – all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists.” 

Today, the Editorial Board of The Boston Globe said this about Trump: “A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather “The enemy of the people.” This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences.

They added:

“Replacing a free media with a state-run media has always been a first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country. Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current U.S. administration are the “enemy of the people.” This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president much like an old-time charlatan threw out “magic” dust or water on a hopeful crowd.

“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom,” wrote John Adams.

For more than two centuries, this foundational American principle has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat. And it sends an alarming signal to despots, from Ankara to Moscow, Beijing to Baghdad, that journalists can be treated as a domestic enemy.”

Which brings me to President Trump, with his pernicious thirst for personally mocking journalists and the media they work for. How much have his hate-mongering words been instrumental in giving the public approval to abuse journalists?

Oh, America! Where are you heading?

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The intense abomination of Jews continues to develop speed.

Sunday chitchat

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. | The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

      by Alan Simons

In a remarkable email sent today to his subscribers, David Harris, Executive Officer of American Jewish Committee (AJC) a Jewish advocacy group established on November 11, 1906, and one of the oldest Jewish advocacy organizations, made an extraordinary claim. “The world’s oldest hatred is back with a vengeance.” He is, of course, referring to antisemitism. To refer to the fact that it is back means that it went away for a while and has now returned, a suggestion I highly dispute.

I’m sure the respected Dutch group CASW (Combat Anti Semitism Worldwide) would share my opinion. CASW started in 2002 as a mailing list administrated by Magenta Foundation, with a purpose to monitor antisemitism and its effects globally and generically by sharing news and information, to share info on the effects of antisemitism in our communities and countries around the world. Since its inception, the list generated some 7000 postings and has now migrated to Facebook as a group. I recommend you give some consideration to joining this group.

Magenta is an independent organization that operates from Amsterdam and works towards an inclusive society in the Netherlands, Europe and globally. Shortly after being established, Magenta was the first organization in the world that dedicated itself to combat discrimination on the Internet. Magenta also hosts the secretariat of the International Network Against Cyber ​​Hate (INACH). By now, organizations in 20 countries participate in this network, each in their own way denouncing cyber hate, protecting the rights of all Internet users and promoting respect between people.

Antisemitism, let’s be more direct and refer to the term as the intense abomination of Jews, has through the Internet, given the Jew-haters among us ample opportunity to show their true feelings. Egged on in recent years by the Trumptwits, the Gallowayites and the Corbynites, to name a few, there is much to be concerned about. We only have to look at what CASW has recently uncovered:

In the USA, Washington DC: “Officials are considering providing separate trains for white nationalists attending the Unite The Right rally in Washington D.C. on August 12 to avoid conflict with counter-protesters, according to reports. Metro’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said at least three private trains are to be organized for a hate group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan to Foggy Bottom Metro Station before they are escorted by police to Lafayette Park for the rally.”

In the USA:  In an article by Hannah Rosenthal, “As a former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism (SEAS) for the State Department, I remain concerned that for the past 18 months, this post has been vacant. The absence of a Special Envoy makes the media’s role in spotlighting outbreaks of hatred and antisemitism even more vital. This is why I was deeply alarmed to see the New York Times downplay and whitewash a neo-Nazi gang in a recent article about Ukraine.”

In Austria: “A group of Austrian middle-school students are under investigation for play-acting as Nazi SS members and Jews after watching a film in which an anti-fascist social experiment gets out of hand, a prosecution spokesman confirmed Thursday. The incidents occurred as the 13- and 14-year-olds were learning about World War II and National Socialism at their school in Zurndorf in eastern Austria, the children’s lawyer Andreas Schweitzer told dpa.”

In Germany: “A strange cult called the Reichsbürger, or ‘citizens of the Reich,’ is emerging in Germany, and it’s raising alarm bells with its far-right views and love of guns. Reports out of Germany suggest that the group has between 15,000 and 18,000 members, around 1,200 of whom are believed to have obtained firearms legally. German media reported that the group’s membership grew by around 56 per cent last year and that the organization is attempting to form an army.”

In the UK: “The Labour Party has been accused of ‘undermining’ the fight against antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, who criticised Labour’s decision to amend their official definitions and examples of antisemitism.”

In Romania: “Antisemitic Graffiti Causes Little Outrage in Romania. Antisemitic graffiti sprayed on Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel’s memorial house in northern Romania sparked international outrage, but caused little reaction from Romanian politicians.”

In France: “They Spit When I Walked in the Street: The ‘New Antisemitism’ in France.”

In Greece, referring to the recent fires caused by the high temperatures: “The Rothschilds burnt us with laser rays’ (blaming the Rothschilds for the recent fires).”

In Denmark: “Danish prosecutors charged an imam with calling for the killing of Jews in the first case of its kind in the Nordic nation.

In conclusion, perhaps the following quotation attributed to Louis Farrakhan, a man deemed antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League says it all: “The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man.”

Hell. The worst place in hell!

 

“It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.” –  T. S. Eliot.

 

by Alan Simons

Avrum Rosensweig has passion. He is the founder and President of Ve’ahavta, Canada’s only national Jewish organization dedicated to humanitarian aid and relief in Canada and abroad.

This weekend his passion about how Syria is treating its children exceeded itself in an ardent statement he made on his Facebook site. It stems in part from an article written by Angela Dewan of CNN. Dewan writes: “The United Nations has verified 7,000 cases of children either killed or maimed in Syria’s seven-year war, but says unverified reports puts the number ‘way beyond 20,000.’”

She adds: “This year has been particularly woeful for Syria’s children as violations against them rise significantly, according to a UN monitoring body, which has verified more than 1,200 such violations, including the deaths or injury of more than 600 children.” To which Rosensweig responded:

Hell. The worst place in hell that equals Syria. According to this report, 7,000 children are dead because of the war there. However informal reports reflect a number closer to 20,000. Hell!!!

And when you read this article you’ll be absolutely astonished at what these armies did to children. Hell!!!

I want to incinerate those responsible for harming and murdering children. Kick them off the edge of a cliff one after the other. Animals. Absolute vicious animals with no will for humanity, no caring for life. And the UN remains silent. And the Arab nations remain quiet. And the “great” powers are complicit.

Hell.

I don’t know about God’s creations sometimes. Just don’t know. Yes, people are responsible but a god fearing person cannot leave the divine out of the equation. To do so would mean God is only responsible for good as in “thank God”.

How could that be? Hell. Hell. Hell. On our watch. As we watch. We too are responsible and cannot hide from this barbarism which happens during our lifetime. Hell!!!! All we can say right now is I’m sorry we did nothing for you children who died.

At least we can pray for the perpetrators to go to hell.

To return to Dewan’s article: “The UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) team has continued to work on verifying violations against children in the war since 2013, when the Syrian government was accused of killing and maiming children, and attacking schools and hospitals…. The team verifies six violations, namely the recruitment and use of children by parties in the conflict, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on hospitals and schools, abductions, and denial of humanitarian access.”

Virginia Gamba is the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Dewan quotes Gamba in her article:

“Every year since then, there has been a tremendous increase in all grave violations committed by all parties to the conflict,” Gamba said.

“Most of the recruitment of children was committed by non-state groups, while most killing and maiming was attributable to the Syrian government and pro-government forces.

“In the first three months of this year, there was an increase of 25% in recruitment and use of children, and of 348% in killing and maiming, compared with the previous three months.”

Gamba then goes on to make an absurd and passionless statement: “It is time for the children of Syria to believe in their own future and to learn what peace means. It is time for them to retake the childhood that was taken away from them,”

Madam Gamba. Can you please explain to all of us how you might suggest the children of Syria who have been maimed, raped and have experienced other forms of sexual violence, have been abducted and denied humanitarian access, been shot at, as well as seen their parents and siblings killed in front of them, start to believe in their own future and learn what peace means?

 

Photo credit: CNN ( No copyright infringement intended)

Ve’ahavta was founded in 1996 and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016. Areas of work include South America, the Caribbean, in Asia (during the tsunami in Thailand and the Hurricane in the Philippines), and communities in rural Africa (affected by AIDS), and advocating awareness about the genocide in Darfur. Locally, he has initiated many programs for the disadvantaged in Toronto (Passover Seder for the Homeless (co-sponsored by Toronto’s Congregation Habonim), Creative Writing Contest for the Homeless, Homework Partnership Program for Somalian Children etc.), as well as forming alliances with the Jewish and First Nations communities.